help wanted

Right or wrong, in our home no one gets homework help unless you ask. When, where, who and how that might take place has changed over time. One year we started Study Hall. Kids with averages below a certain level were placed in our dining room make-shift work center. On so many fronts this didn’t work well. Like a hot potato, Jon and I would feign graciousness by “allowing” the other to be the monitor. Nothing like putting a group of rotten-attitude, homework-laden siblings and a reluctant adult in a room together after a long day.  This strategy didn’t last long.

We’ve also tried providing a specific window of time in which a kid needing educational direction could seek guidance and instruction.

“I’ll be available from 7 to 8 pm. If you need any help with your schoolwork, you are allowed to ask then.”

Of course like Study Hall, this too fell to the wayside in a disastrous manner.

“Mom… I need help with my English paper.”

“What time is it?” asks Mom in an effort to stick to her plan.

“Uhhh… 8:20.”

“Well, I guess you should have thought of that 20 minutes ago.” Mom floats, opting to make a point on sticking to a schedule and adhering to rules.

“What??!! … Really?? … I just wanted some help.” pause…”You really aren’t going to help me?”

“You should have … ”

“Don’t worry about it,” the kid dejectedly replies. “I really wanted to make an A. Oh, well. I guess I’ll figure it out myself,” the kid mutters while shuffling upstairs.

“Wait… No.. Go get your notebook. I’ll help you.” the big brown puppy dog eyes were just too much. Plus that desire to get a good grade. I mean who can resist? Forget about the life lesson.

“Nahhh… I don’t want to bother you.”

“No…Really – I want to help.” I say grabbing the assignment. Of course, we both know that I won’t be able to stop myself, so I proceed to come up with the thesis, supporting details, creative illustrations and a power point presentation as the above and beyond cherry on top – a sure fire strategy for an A+ … who wants a measly A?!

Yeah, this strategy didn’t last long either. Not sure what skills were being honed here – study habits or how to manipulate your mother? … hmmm… I think mostly the latter – and political acumen like how to spin your situation to get what you want.

Now, we’ve opted for full hands off. Parents are available to help when needed, but the kid must be flexible and know that screaming siblings take precedence – especially if blood or broken appendage is involved. Apparently, though, the kids have a weighted preference as to which parent provides help.

“Can you look at this?” Sister asks yesterday.

“Sure. What are you supposed to do?”

“Well, find the verb – ”

“‘Was’ is the verb.” I cut her off, confident of my ability in this realm.

“Is ‘was’ the linking verb?”

“Uhhh..’was’ is the verb.”

“Is ‘was’ the linking verb?” she asks again with emphasis.

Finding myself clueless once again, I respond, “Well… What’s a ‘linking verb’?”

“Never mind.” she resigns, then mumble something about, “I thought it was only with math.”

Okay, so I might have messed up a few of their math assignments in the past. Apparently, I’m gaining a reputation with English, too. But seriously, what in the world is a ‘linking’ verb. It didn’t help matters when she returned with a question about her now diagrammed sentence. Diagrams – Yikes!

“Oh, I think ‘about the rodeo’ goes under cowboy … no, maybe under ‘was’ … oh..,” I struggle.

“I think I’ll just keep what I have.” she says to me, retrieving her workbook from my hands.

The scene was neatly tied in a bow by her brother who was walking by, “You know you should just ask, Dad.”

Ahhh… yet again another opportunity for me to relish in all the brain cells I’ve donated at the Baylor University Medical Center maternity ward. Will they ever come back? Regenerate? Can I hope?

No. … I just need to steer clear of homework. For all of our sake’s.

Thanks for walking the road with me.


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